Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla has witnessed many classics, but equally many dull draws, and each time that happens questions are raised over the quality of pitches.
While there will always be debate on what makes an ideal pitch, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s effort to educate groundsmen on the need for quality pitches is gaining momentum.
In accordance with BCCI norms, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) is in the process of relaying the Kotla wicket, which is completely covered with grass at the moment.
Daljit Singh, chairman of the BCCI pitches committee, was in Delhi to keep a close eye on preparations. “We have relaid the pitch and by the time IPL 2009 starts this pitch will be at it’s best. Though it would be ready to host the Champions League in October,” he said.
“During the digging we found that there was strong brick foundation underneath the pitch,” explained Daljit. “That must have been done as the Kotla ground is in a low-lying area. We didn’t tamper with that. We only worked on the upper crust.”
Pitch curator Vijay Bahadur Mishra went into the details. “We dug 14 inches and laid a four-inch coarse sand foundation. This was covered with a four-inch layer of loamy sand and topped with eight inches of black soil in which grass seeds were sown.”
“This is the first time that we are putting in place a pitch drainage system,” said Mishra. “Grounds with field-drainage system already exist and the one in Chennai is the best, but this is the first time that we are using a pitch-drainage system.”
Ajay Kumar Chowrasia, an engineer with the DDCA, said, “The area which consists of the two pitches is 90 square feet and that has been outlined by PVC pipes placed at least 24 inches below the surface. The pipes have as many as nine outlets and the water collected empties out in the drains on the periphery of the ground.”
Daljit stressed on the need for a thorough approach. “Earlier, all sorts of methods were used. This is a scientifically proven method. Recently at a seminar in Srinagar a person told me that people had asked him to use cork as foundation to get bounce,” said Daljit. “Imagine using cork! Different people tried different methods, but now curators have realised their folly and are ready to use scientific methods.”
Daljit also felt the Kotla work was planned at the right time. “The Indian Premier League was shifted to South Africa and that was the time the DDCA decided to dig up the pitch,” he said.
“We wanted to use the monsoon period for the job and that’s exactly what we are doing. There couldn’t have been a better time for this.”